Gas prices reach new record high as GOP senators blame Biden for holding production back
Average gas prices in the U.S. reached a new record high Thursday, according to AAA’s gas price calculator, after Republican senators slammed the Biden administration for a “de facto ban on new drilling.”
The national average cost of a regular gallon of gasoline hit $4.589 early Thursday morning. This price topped Wednesday’s previous record of $4.567, which had beat Tuesday’s record of $4.523, which in turn had beat Monday’s record of $4.470.
The price comes as the European Union edges toward oil sanctions on Russia amid the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine. It also comes amid record-high inflation, with the consumer price index reaching 8.3% in April, hovering near March’s 40-year high. The price hike also follows the Department of the Interior’s cancellation of an oil and gas lease sale for over 1 million acres in Alaska’s Cook Inlet last week, which DOI attributed to a “lack of industry interest.” DOI also canceled two Gulf of Mexico leases.
The White House has blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for the record-high gas prices in the U.S., even coining the surge as the “#PutinPriceHike” and vowing that President Biden will do everything he can to shield Americans from “pain at the pump.”
Biden, last month, announced that the Environmental Protection Agency will allow the sale of E15 gasoline – gasoline that uses a 15% ethanol blend – across the country this summer. Biden has also moved to release 1 million barrels of oil per day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for the next 6 months. The president is also calling on Congress to make companies pay fees on idled oil wells and non-producing acres of federal lands, aiming to incentivize new production.
Yet critics have claimed that Biden’s actions on energy policies have created a “supply problem” in the market.
Twenty Republican senators, led by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo calling for the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to quickly issue permits required to bring additional production online from existing offshore federal oil and gas leases.
“While the Biden Administration and Members of Congress fault the domestic oil and gas industry for sitting idle on over 9,000 drilling permits and millions of acres in ‘inactive leases’, NMFS’s permitting delays represent one example of the Administration’s de facto ban on new drilling – impeding domestic oil and gas investment, exploration, and production,” the senators wrote.
The senators attributed the delays to “three administration-made and admitted mistakes” that trace back to mathematical errors in calculating the number of endangered species in the Gulf of Mexico in a 2021 final rule governing offshore oil and gas exploration.
“It is unacceptable that agency miscalculations have restricted access to safe, secure, and reliable domestic oil and gas production through substantial, unnecessary, and arbitrary permitting delays,” they added.
Within his first week in office, Biden signed an executive order temporarily suspending new oil and gas leases on federal lands. The administration resumed the new leasing last month following court challenges against the ban. The administration is appealing a ruling in which Judge James Cain, a Trump appointee, struck down the ban.
Steve Milloy, a former Trump-Pence EPA transition member and founder of JunkScience.com, blamed the president for a lack of U.S. oil production.
“I blame Biden for all lack of production. He has scared away investment,” Milloy told FOX Business last week. He suggested that the president will find “any excuse to not drill. They even tried to use the social cost of carbon decision to stop leasing.”